I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Fribourg


Fribourg has one of the best maintained Old Towns in Switzerland — or so I've read. And I would not disagree, for on Tuesday 3 January I walked through Fribourg's charming and historic old quarter, and found it beautifully preserved. It had a distinctly Catholic and medieval feel. I wandered through small, atmospheric squares with fountains. I climbed steep streets which led up to the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas with its Gothic bell tower. I chanced upon all kinds of architectural nooks and crannies, and picked out tiny effigies of saints in walls and alcoves. Then, after admiring the fine sixteenth-century Town Hall, I crossed the ancient Pont de Berne, a roofed, wooden bridge spanning the river Sarine.


Soon the river entered a deep gorge. I passed a trout farm and followed the river for several kilometres. The Sarine had eroded a twisting course through the soft molasse — a friable mixture of sandstone, shale, conglomerate and marine deposits. Over the millennia the river had smoothed this rock into sinuous shapes, scooping out depressions and carving pinnacles, and undercutting it to form exciting overhangs. My circular route then doubled back to Fribourg along field paths which tracked the topmost edge of the ravine. The weather was hardly cold, considering the time of year, and long, low scarves of cloud indicated that a mild Föhn wind was about to blow. A spectacular sunset lit up the city as I climbed back down. 


Fribourg (Freiburg in German) was famous for its weavers, tanners and dyers in medieval times. It's now a popular university town, with a population of 40,000. Lying on the border of French and German speaking Switzerland, it is, as such, bilingual. It's an arty place, an academic place and a gastronomic place. I ate in two restaurants there — one Lebanese, one Italian — and both were very good.


(All images from Wikimedia Commons)

13 comments:

am said...

What is the location of the new image on your header?

Herringbone said...

Astute observation makes your journey most interesting. Hidden effigies,cool geologic features. The gem,for me, was Fohn wind. Nice.

Laura said...

Lovely.

George said...

Sounds like—and certainly looks like—a lovely place, Robert. I don't think I've been to Fribourg, but I think it's near Gruyere, where Margaret and I have spent a few nights on several occasions. What joy it is to set out on foot to discover a new place and its environs.

Dominic Rivron said...

Interesting. Looks like a sort of Swiss Matlock.

Grace said...

I love exploring nooks and crannies:) Sounds like a magical place, a place that takes you back in time.

Goat said...

I love that place, one of my favourite places in Switzerland. It was very, very cold when I was there. Glad you enjoyed it - that river is indeed magical, and the old quarter: magnificent.

Nick said...

A beautiful place - if you can avoid spending money there. I remember it as horribly expensive, but maybe that's changed a little since I was last in the area. But certainly rewarding to walk through.

The Weaver of Grass said...

The town certainly looks beautiful Robert - hope the sky was as blue as it looks in the photos.

The Solitary Walker said...

I took this photo in September at Jongieux, between Chanaz and Yenne, on the French Chemin de Saint-Jacques, am. It's one of the loveliest stages of the whole walk. You climb through vineyards to the chapel of Saint-Romain, then descend steeply, zigzagging through woods down to the river Rhône.

Thanks everyone else for your comments.

Dominic — Ha! Let's put it like this. I'd rather live in Fribourg than Matlock. Though Switzerland is rather expensive, as Nick observes.

And Weaver — No, the sky was overcast for much of the day I was there, but brightened up towards evening.

am said...

That is a lovely place. It comes alive for me in your photo. Another treasured experience of "just like being there."

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, it was very special, am.

Ruth said...

What a charming town! We have a study abroad program in Fribourg, of course.